Art beyond frontiers, a dappled, exhilarating trans-frontier exhibition of modern and traditional sculptures

1 February 2014

Once again the frontier communes of Collex-Bossy (CH) and Ornex (F) have
successfully cooperated in mounting an artistic and educational venture that
brought delight and inspiration to many visitors from July to mid-September

This was the fifth edition of the initiative Art en campagne — art in the
countryside — dedicated this year to the real and figurative theme Au-delà des
Bornes – Beyond boundary stones.

True enough, we live on the national frontiers of France and Switzerland, but as
internationals we have the privilege to go in and out of many cultures,
languages and cuisines, we are confronted with different musical expressions,
religions and philosophies, transcending stereotypes and caricatures. Thus we
grow richer and wiser by virtue of this multiculturalism that the United Nations
and its specialized agencies consciously nurture and promote.

A well-indicated six kilometres circuit zigzagging from Switzerland into France
and back to Switzerland, this clever exposition was composed of 26 works of art
by professional sculptors and amateurs representing seven nationalities. From
very young artists, to well-seasoned sculptors in their eighties, this exposition
also included artistic ventures by schoolchildren from Collex, Ferney, Ornex
and Versonnex.

What a delightful way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon strolling through
fields and forests adorned with art! All exhibits stood there, in the open, in the
middle of nature, not in a gallery. There was no entrance fee and no museum
guard or alarm system to dissuade visitors from getting too close or touching the
art work.

In a world of increased video (and drone!) surveillance, it is particularly
relaxing to be able to move about without supervision! And for those who
might not have understood the message of the sculptures, each exhibit gave its
own exegesis. The visitor, however, remained free to formulate his or her own
interpretation, to personalize it, internalize it, and let the work of art deploy its
magic. My wife and I decided to visit by bike and spent two good hours
studying the eclectic, ingenious and inspiring constructions – an invigorating
outing, humorous, surprising and surely enough to satisfy anyone’s appetite for

The first exhibit was a wooden construction depicting a man and a woman
trying to decipher the frontiers – one by use of binoculars, the other by
consulting the net. The artist, Marianne van der Hoeven, was born in Germany
and lives in Collex-Bossy – she translates emotions into abstract paintings and
sculpture, using all sorts of material – earth, metal, plastic, paper, wood and

The fourth exhibit consisted of a series of sculptures and border stones by Henri
Bertrand, a Swiss sculptor residing in Vaud, laureate of the 2012 edition of Art
en campagne, which ran under the theme “Rousseau, solitary hiker”. This time
Henri took up the new challenge and proposed a pragmatic approach to
overcoming frontiers and other limitations: solidarity and cooperation. He
depicts the homo ludens: man the playing being — one boy jumping over
another, representing the commonality of the “we” and “they”, and the
commitment to build a common future.

Susanne Lewest, born in Berlin and residing in Collonges (F), offered us the
sixth exhibit , a construction between two trees ,a frontier mark composed of
many stones collected on both sides of the frontier. Hovering over this block of
stones, hanging stones that swung lightly in the wind.

The ninth exhibit amused us particularly. In the middle of the forest we found a
multicoloured Totem with the sign “beyond frontiers there are unexpected
encounters”. The witty creator is Jacques Guillon, a resident of the Pays de
Gex, who specializes on wood sculptures, with expositions in Belgium, France
and Switzerland.

The tenth sculpture composition consisted of monumental Question Marks
rising from open green fields and joined together in the centre by a hanging
globe. The artist, Yann-Loü Lara, was born in Morocco at the foot of the
Sahara, son of a Spanish father and a Breton mother. Proud of this heritage
beyond frontiers, he expresses the euphoric dimension of diversity, here in
monumental sculpture, but also in smaller structures intended to be allegories of
mankind’s hopes. The question marks are not, however, constructions in grey
concrete — but see-through mirages.

As in previous years, visitors had the opportunity to vote for their favourite
work of art, a choice that is not always easy. At the closure ceremonies on 8
September, Yann-Lou Lara, was awarded his laurels. I too had voted for him.
This fifth exhibition was prepared by a committee of Swiss and French art
lovers, including Dr. Alfons Noll, retired legal advisor at ITU, and his wife Dr.
Meike Noll-Wagenfeld, retired legal advisor at UNHCR.

The sixth edition of this fine initiative will be held in 2015, skipping one
summer. For more information please consult

Alfred de Zayas